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النشر الإلكتروني


Concerning Divine Providence, in General.

DIVINE Providence confifts in preferving, directing and governing, all creatures and things which are made; or in taking the most wise and effectual care of them, fo as to make them answer the end for which they are created.

God preferves or upholds all things by his powerful word; by the conftant excrtion of the fame power, by which they were at first created, or caused to exift. Every created thing is conftantly and entirely dependent on the Creator, for continuance in exiftence. Should that power which firft caufed it to exist be withdrawn, or ccafe to be exerted one moment, it would have no exiftence; it would cease to exist, and sink into its origi nal nothing. It is impoffible that a creature fhould be made, fo as to exift one moment, in any respect or degree, independent of the Creator; it must be as really and as *much dependent on him for continuance in existence, as for its firft exiftence. Therefore prefervation is a conftant exertion of the fame power which firft produced. the existence of the creature, in caufing or giving continual existence; and is really continued creation.

Every part of creation, and each creature and thing in it, from the greatest down to the leaft, is not only conftantly upheld by the exertion of the fame power which first gave existence; but is in all respects continually under the direction and governing power and care of the Creator, in every change, as to the place or manner of existence, and every motion, by which God

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orders, difpofes and ufes every thing in his creation, to accomplish his own infinitely wife and important designs. As God created all things for himself, in order to accomplifh his own defigns, being formed according to his pleafure; fo he ufes every thing, fo as in the wifeft and beft manner to answer the end for which it was defigned. If any the leaft thing were not fo directed and used, as to answer the end defigned, it would be created in vain; which is inconfiftent with the wifdom and goodnefs of the Creator. God governs the world, and all things in it, by flated and fixed laws or rules, which are called the laws, or the courfe of nature, by which all motions and events take place, in a certain order, and conftant feries and connection of caufe and effect. But this law or courfe of nature, is nothing but divine power and wisdom conftantly exerted, to caufe things to take place in fuch a ftated way and manner; or the divine will, eftablishing fuch an order in events; and does not fuppofe any power in creatures, or any created thing, to caufe fuch motions and events, afide from the immedi ate exertion of divine power, which is the proper efficient cause of every event: fo that all power is in God, and all creatures which act, or move, exift and move, or are moved in and by him.

This fixed law and courfe of nature, which, as has been obferved, is nothing but the divine will, wifely determined to operate in a certain fteady, fixed manner, by way of cause and effect, the fame caufe generally producing the fame effect, is neceffary in order to man's gaining any proper knowledge of things around him, and obtaining any prudence and wifdom, with regard to the objects with which he is concerned, and by which he is to regulate his condu&t, form his plans and prof pects; and to excite his hopes, fears, and exertions. Were there no fettled order and fixed connection in things and events, there would be no foundation for all

this; but man would be involved in total darkness and uncertainty, without any knowledge and wifdom to conduct any of his affairs, or any motive to action, in matters relating to his body. And in this established order and connection in the visible creation, not only the power, but the wildom, and fteady counfel, the goodnefs, truth and faithfulness of him who worketh all things by the counfel of his own will, are conftantly manifefted to man; which is afferted in the facred writings.

When this ftated courfe of events, or thefe laws of nature, are interrupted, and vifibly counteracted, and events take place in a contrary manner; these events are called miracles, though there is no more power neceffary, or really exerted and manifefted in these, than there is in producing events according to the ordinary courfe of things. No more power is neceffary or manifefted in caufing the fun to ftand ftill, or move from Weft to Eaft, than there is in caufing it to keep a fteady, uninterrupted course from Eaft to Welt. The former The Governo would be a miracle, the latter is not.

of the world may and does, for wife reasons, and to anfwer important ends, thus vifibly counteract the general course of things and events; and that on such occafions, and in those inftances, and ways, as not to fruftrate the general and important ends to be answered by the steady course of things, which he has established. And in how many inftances among the inconceivable number and variety of events which take place, they are brought about and caused to exift juft at such a time, and in such a manner, not according to any ftated law, or courfe of things, no man can tell; as the agent, by whofe constant energy all things are conducted, is invifible to us; and may act immediately, or by the inftrumentality of invifible agents; and yet this may be done, fo as not visibly to counteract the ftated laws or courfe of nature, or be the leaft obftruction to the exercife of human wifdom and

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and prudence, in every thing in which men are concerned. No one can doubt of this, who will carefully attend to the matter, and obferve the representation of it in the holy scriptures. All fuch inftances, be they ever fo many, may be called miracles, though invisible to man, being out of the reach of our perception, as they are of the fame nature and kind with those inftances, above mentioned, in which, what is called the course of nature, is visibly, or to our fenfes, counteracted, and events take place contrary to it, which we call miracles.

This care and providence of God, in directing and governing all creatures and things, is univerfal, and conftant, respecting all things at all times; and is extended to the leaft, as well as the greatest and more important existence; and, is concerned in every event, however minute, and in our view, inconfiderable. Not a sparrow, or the least bird or infect, falls to the ground, or dies, without the direction and agency of God. The hairs of our head are all carefully numbered; and fo many and not one more, are ordered to exift, and not one is removed or broken, without the order and operation of the divine hand, And this is equally true of eve-' ry hair on men and beafts, and of each leaf in the foreft, or fpire of grafs on the earth, that ever have exifted, or will exift, to the end of the world.

In the exercife of this divine providence, fome events take place by the more immediate energy and agency of God; and others by the inftrumentality and agency of creatures, and by various mediums, and what are called fecond caufes. But in all the events of the latter kind, the divine hand, power and energy, is as really and as much concerned and exerted, and is really as evident, and as much to be acknowledged, as if no inftrument, agent, or fecond cause were used, or had any concern in the matter. Because the creature or the inftrument, has no power to act or effect any thing, independent of God,

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or which is not given to him by God. And is in the hand of God, as the ax or faw is in the hand of the workman. This is the light in which divine revelation every where reprefents the providence of God, as every one who carefully attends to it, muft be fenfible. And what has been obferved fhows that this is perfectly confonant to reafon; and that a different and contrary idea of divine providence, is infupportable, and inconfift



1. FROM this fcriptural view of divine providence, it appears, that they are in a great and dangerous error, who believe and affert, that the creation, and all creatures, when once made, have power to fubfift of themfelves, and ftand alone by their own power, given to them in their creation; and to continue in motion and action, independent of any immediate exertion of divine energy, to fupport and direct them. That creation and creatures, once made and put in order, go on in a regular courfe, of their own accord; and that God does never interpofe, or take any farther care of the works of his hand. Every one who has attended to the Bible, muft be fenfible that fuch a notion is very inconfiftent with that: And it is moft unreasonable, as it fuppofes that which is impoffible, viz. That the creature may fubfift of itself, when once made, in a measure independent of the Creator. This is contrary to all true philosophy And at the fame time difhonorable to God, as if he did not take a particular and wife care of the things he has made; and exercise and manifeft his power, wif


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• That such a divine providence as is here described and asserted, which is rational, and every where fuppofed and held up to view in the Bible, iş perfectly confiftent with the moral agency and liberty of man, appears from a foregoing chapter on the Decrees of God.

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